Steps to better health

August 14, 2012

Blood pressure, Diabetes, Exercise

The “healthier you” incorporates your physical, mental and emotional best.

by Dr. Nicholas Warner — 

Today, we know more than ever about how the body deteriorates over time and its vulnerability to disease. Health practitioners are rapidly adapting this knowledge to promote health and longevity. The “healthier you” incorporates your physical, mental and emotional best. Here are some of the steps you can take to help build better health.

Beat the leading cause of death — Johanna Parker and colleagues from the University of Warwick (United Kingdom) conducted a systematic literature review of studies examining vitamin D (specifically 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25OHD] as an indicator of vitamin D status) and cardiometabolic disorders.

The studies revealed a significant association between high levels of vitamin D and a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (33 percent lower risk compared to people with low levels of vitamin D), type 2 diabetes (55 percent risk reduction) and metabolic syndrome (51 percent risk reduction).

Excite the brain — A large nationwide study by Brandeis University in Boston suggests that mental exercises aid cognitive skills. Margie Lachman and colleagues conducted the Midlife in the United States study, which assessed 3,343 men and women, ages 32 to 84 years, 40 percent of whom had at least a four-year college degree. Evaluating how the participants performed in two cognitive areas, verbal memory and executive function, the team found that those with higher education engaged in cognitive activities more often and performed better on the memory tests.

However, some subjects with less education performed just as well; the researchers found that intellectual activities undertaken regularly made a difference. Specifically, among individuals with low education, those who engaged in reading, writing, attending lectures, and doing word games or puzzles once a week or more had memory scores similar to people with more education.

Engage the body — Physical activity is associated with reduced risks of chronic diseases and premature death. Qi Sun and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health explored whether physical activity is also associated with improved overall health among those who survive to older ages.

Analyzing data from 13,535 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study, whereby the women reported their physical activity levels in 1986 (average age then: 60 years), the team found that women who survived to age 70 or older (10-plus years after the study began) were engaged in higher levels of physical activity at the beginning of the study and were less likely to have chronic diseases, heart surgery or any physical, cognitive or mental impairments.

Keep in mind, of course, that these are not the only ways to maximize your health, but they are great places to start. There is never a bad time to sit down and assess your current health and what you can do to improve it, especially when some simple behavior and lifestyle modifications can have a profound impact on your life span. Talk to your doctor for more information.

 

Dr. Nicholas Warner is a certified massage therapist and a doctor of chiropractic with Wellness in Motion, Inc., in Phoenix. He is an instructor for The Southern California University of Health Sciences and Utah College of Massage Therapy. 602-863-4252 or www.wellness-in-motion.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 3, June 2010.

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